Phony Kony? Take it easy on us.

So yeah, I got excited about Kony 2012. I watched the video, I shared it, I had tears in my eyes, I reached for my credit card – and then I stopped. I started researching on the net (how did we find information before the internet?), reading some news articles about this man, about his army, about Uganda.

I wrote my last blog because, yes, I was actually excited about Kony 2012 and the idea that people power could change something. I’m not beating myself up about that. I’m not going to apologise about having hope.

There are so many places in the world that need help. Not just white-man-in-developed-country-will-send-you-money-and-feel-better-themselves help, real help. But there are millions of people sitting through the TV screen, sitting on the other end of a computer asking themselves, “how can I help? I’m on the other side of the world? What can I do?”

When Haiti was ravaged by earthquakes, and Victoria by bushfires, we were told by charitable organisations: “The best thing you can do, is send money. Money can be used properly, in the best possible way.”

My favourite volunteer organisation, VIN in Nepal, need money. They need money to help the children who are orphaned, homeless, illiterate. They need money to buy materials to build toilets in communities, to better improve hygiene, and save lives.

It is not fair to have a go at people who donate money, share a video, or are talking about Kony. It’s not fair to have a go at people who sign online petitions or lend their support through social networking means. It IS wrong that people sometimes don’t know what they are signing for, but don’t be harsh on people just because they want to help, but are not in the position to do so.

It will interesting in the next few months to see what happens to Kony 2012. The anti-Invisible Children sites have come out, followed by the Invisible Children rebuttal and declaration against the crimes held against them over money and motives.

If the conspiracy theories are correct and the entire Kony campaign has been created by the American government as a way into Africa for oil and influence, or if this group of people are using this cause to put money in their pockets, then yes, this will be a tragic turn of events to follow the hype of the first few days.

I thought for a moment about how I would feel if I was in a troubled country and there was a viral video going around asking people to come in and help me and my countrypeople. I might look around and say, hey – my country can look after itself. I trust my leaders, we know what’s going on, why are they sticking their noses in, thinking they know better?

But also, I thought, what if I needed help? What if I couldn’t get information out to the world? We have all been rocked by the sights of Egypt, Libya and now the heart-wrenching situation of Syria. There is really, NOTHING I can do for Syria right now, except talk about Syria, and lend my voice to the international pleas for peace.

That is why people are sharing, clicking, donating to this Kony cause. Because the thousands of faces in the video made us feel that maybe, maybe this one will work – just a few more people, a little bit more inertia, a win.

Of course I worry that it is not worth it, or all will come to nothing, but in the world we live in today, so disconnected that phones and computers are what connect us, I would be more worried that such a cause existed, such a video was made public, and no-one even cared.

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Why Kony 2012 just might work…

I admit, I’m somewhat of an online activism junkie. I have a major soft and squishy spot inside for causes that I once had someone acidly accuse of being “feel good causes.” So what!? (I unfriended him eventually, and more importantly, these FEEL GOOD causes he speaks of are important – from whales to sexual discrimination, gay marriage to coal seam gas.) I LIKE feel good causes. I love the whales, I love the trees and the forests and all the animals. I hold out hope for equality, freedom and love. And in this busy world where we seem unable to do anything to help causes that move us – there are online petitions. When a petition is there to sign, I’m there, signing and sharing, signing and sharing.

And now, yes here it is, the ULTIMATE feel good, activist’s cause has reared its powerful head.

Kony 2012. The campaign of the Invisible Children movement – cleverly using a bit of social rebellion (in the form of a night of propaganda propagation) as its delivery, and infamy as a means of attack. By having the world know Joseph Kony, he may well be more likely to be found, arrested, brought to justice, and stopped.

Kony is the man behind the LRA – the Lord’s Resistance Army – perpetrators of tens of thousands of child abductions, murders, rapes, sales of sex slaves, and the forced arming of children, done in the name of a Christian God.

So today I saw the 29 minute video released by the The Invisible Children movers and shakers. It is certainly powerful. Shocking. Important. They are calling on the social networkers of the world – in fact – purely calling on the world, to do something about this man Kony, and his long-held enslavement of the Ugandan people, particularly the children, to a life of fear and violence.

This movie it seems, was released only days ago. It already has 4 MILLION SHARES.

For once my body and soul feel so much hope for something going viral on the internet. For once I honestly applaud the power of Facebook! This movie is a must see, and the movement on the 20th of April this year, may very well be memorable. It might be an event. Something might happen that will make the world stand up and take notice.

Facebook had its busy fingers at work in the Arab Spring. Facebook was there when Iran was uprising against Ahmadinejad. Now the power of Facebook is stretching its power to help this African nation.

I haven’t given you the details about the campaign. Check out the movie yourself. Yes it’s half and hour long. Deal with it – it’s worth it. Sign a petition if you feel it is warranted, buy a T-shirt if you like, donate money if you are inclined. At least – tell someone about this campaign that is full of high hopes – of using social media and the power of people to stop one man – a man who has terrorised a nation for decades.

The thing is, it just might work. Why not be a part?

Why Facebook has Done its Dash

One more time, Facebook has reset its security settings, changed the account and notification arrangement, altered the tagging system, and all round annoyed me. For one more day, my wares and tears have been open for all to see, until I, like many others, saw a few ‘stati’ of friends, urging us to check our settings to ensure that our page is secure.

(Haven’t seen these? Check your settings NOW – go to Security and make your site secure.)

Facebook is getting harder and harder to love.

I’m a teacher. Well, I sort of am. Well, I have been. And Facebook, as it can be to anyone – in any profession – can be a threat to my job and career. More so, I don’t want a Year 11 boy coming to school and announcing that my Facebook is “totally not private Miss” after he stumbled across my Vanuatu trip holiday pics, in all of which, I am in a bikini, and holding a beer.

Now this small incident (rectified immediately) was either due to Facebook resetting the security settings for each of our accounts, or another notification setting revamped, as maybe the student was able to view my profile as a ‘Friend of a Friend’ (you wouldn’t believe it but sometimes foolish staff members have students on their list!).

Whenever this resetting of settings occurs, we can all fix them and move on, but I’m sick of treading around, wandering whether Facebook will suddenly decide to reset everything again. And why is there no group email being delivered, letting us know of this? And how is it okay? If a phone book decided to suddenly list your previously silent number, you wouldn’t take it lying down. And the phone book company would be in trouble. But Facebook, no, they are (ironically) a faceless entity, playing with our personal effects and every so often deciding to chuck them out on the curb and wait and see how long it takes for us to notice, run out and grab them, and lock them up again.

I appreciate that Facebook is a web based social networking site, and everything I’ve ever put on my page is out there in the big bad world, and being okay with that, then I should be ready for the consequences. But it’s nice to feel like we have some control over this ‘stuff’ we’ve released out into the ether.

Recently while being overseas, I googled myself and found that my Facebook page (no photo albums or major info, but my complete friend list and groups I belong to) was readily available on some other dodgy Facebook-try-hard page that I had never heard of. This page was basically just replicating people’s Facebook pages, and putting it on their site – without anyone knowing that their photo and friend list were readily accessible. After 5 minutes I was locked out from looking at this site. Oh yeah! Really SECURE!!! So, people can find you, find your friends, see your photo, and you don’t even know about it.

Look, I’m no techno wiz. I don’t know much, but for me, I know that I no longer feel secure in my relationship with Facebook.